Capo vs No Capo

 
       
 
Oct 04, 2017, 01:55 PM

I was just curious about different opinions on capo use. It seems sometimes it is easier to use initially when searching for a particular sound.. This may be because of limited guitar ability.I may initially use a capo , then remove it and find a chord that has the same or similar sound. Sometimes the sound is improved without the capo.
I was interested in opinions on this method and the use of a capo?

” I’m just a guy with a Guitar”
      BC Caster

 
     
BCCaster Joined Aug 29, 2017
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Oct 04, 2017, 10:16 PM

Hello BC,

Nothing wrong with using a capo, I use one all the time, like you, I find a particular chord progression I like, then fret up or down and match key in a different progression, pretty cool when you record two tracks, same key different progressions.  At times I find it easier to write in a different key that is easier for me to sing in, then once I’ve got my lyric, I return to a non capo’ed key and practice the vocals, works for me, maybe not everyone else, you would just have to try it.  I also find it easier to do leads on the higher (closer) frets using a capo until I have my licks down, then I go back to standard keys.  I’m sure you will get feed back from others on this question, take it all in and do what feels right for you.  Once you get real comfortable and feel like experimenting, invest in a Spider Capo, the possibilities are nearly endless, most music stores have them and they can also be found online Musicians Friend, Sweetwater Music, Guitar Centers, ZZ Sounds, etc.  Best wishes,

Speak soon

Music is an international language, say it with a song.

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Deacon Joined Aug 30, 2009
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Oct 05, 2017, 09:43 AM

Capos are fine and can be used effectively. But when using as a solo instrument, it can end up sounding thinner than you might want. The higher up the neck you go, the thinner the sound is going to be. They are used effectively in female keys where they sing either flat or sharp keys half step up or down. And yes, a lot of people write with them. The sooner you could find the right configuration in a lower register will make the overall performance SOUND better. The farther DOWN the neck, closer to the head stock, the more “FULL” your sound will be.

MAB

 
     
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MBarne4908 Joined Jul 29, 2010
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Oct 05, 2017, 09:00 PM

Thanks Deacon and MAB.
I do notice a thinner almost flat sound sometimes when I go further down the neck. I watched a few videos on the spider Capo, that is one interesting device.

” I’m just a guy with a Guitar”
      BC Caster

 
     
BCCaster Joined Aug 29, 2017
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Oct 06, 2017, 07:40 AM

Some capos come with a chart, showing that, if you use the three principal chord configurations of the Key of G, for example, which are G, C, and D, at, say, the fourth fret, what Key you’re ACTUALLY playing in.

The capo enables you to use your familiar chord structures but demands that you sing in that other, ACTUAL key. So you have to find how to get your voice to fit the Key. Maybe you can sing higher in pitch, or lower in pitch, and make it work.

This ‘demand’ for you to accommodate the new Key inspires new vocal Melodies, and new Lyrical ideas.

You can then try those new inspirations back at standard pitch without the capo, or with the capo on other frets, which would be other keys.

You can play them in that actual Key, abandoning the Key of G chord configurations for the three principal chords of the actual Key.

It might be a great tool for breaking out of the perception of Writer’s Block, renewing the exploratory surprise factors of your instrument, and inspiration for new Songs.

I have a Song with the capo on the first fret. That simple change inspired something. Explore. Always explore. The possibilities are endless, infinite, inexhaustible.

There will always be another song to be written. Someone will write it. Why not you? http://www.garyeandrews.com

 
     
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Gary E. Andrews Joined Apr 12, 2005
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Oct 06, 2017, 11:12 AM

another cool effect just to ‘fill out sound’, especially if you’re fingerpicking, is to play open chords
on one track…...... then capo up and play in the same key at a different position on another
track. mixing the tracks in stereo, left n right, sounds really cool. especially for slow ‘balad’ stuff :)

 
     
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JAPOV Joined Jul 02, 2006
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Oct 06, 2017, 09:50 PM

That’s will definitely add some depth to the sound. I just learned a method of getting the stereo sound.
Good Stuff!!!!

” I’m just a guy with a Guitar”
      BC Caster

 
     
BCCaster Joined Aug 29, 2017
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Oct 07, 2017, 12:39 PM

Interestingly enough, I just dealt with this situation with a female singer/songwriter I work with here in Nashville. We had written a couple of songs and she was trying to find something that worked with her vocal range. She was using a capo and in positions very high up on the neck, around the 12th fret, which forced it to sound more like a Ukulele or Mandolin and had no bottom end for depth in the songs.

I sat with her and worked out some other positions on the neck that gave it a fuller sound. The key is finding the vocal range, then experimenting with different positions to play that they can use the chord configurations. Sometimes it gets a little challenging, trying to find what they can do, thinking of transposition, etc. The key is TO EXPERIMENT. There are usually three places on any guitar that people can position a capo to give it a different sound.  Moving it up and down, finding the right notes and chord configurations are a bit of trial and error but can yield positive results.

Female voices are usually BETWEEN the keys, so much is in flat and sharps, A#, Bb, C#. etc. so many times there are no choices but to use one. But keep an ear to the SOUND of the chords. If you are a solo player, the higher up you go, the less FULL the sound of the chord.

Japov is correct in layering multiple guitars in the studio or live. It is actually a pretty good ear training exercise playing with someone live, finding a different position on the neck and playing a long in a different configuration. Can help in your own writing and performing.
With multiple instruments it can give a great effect at spreading out the tones of a song. And sometimes a capo can be used in interesting ways, such as a modulation key change. Just have to find the exact right moment to pause, move the capo, and then pick up in the next key. They do make ROLLING capos that can do this.

I was at the NAMM show (New Music Merchandisers showcase convention) and the Kaiser guy gave me a couple of interesting ones. One had a tuner built on to it, but attached with a magnet that didn’t hold on to the tuner very well. Of course, that was the first to be lost. But there was another one that had places cut out to play in DROP D or other note configurations which led to some interesting things when using TWO capos. One for the basic note, and another for a cut out which provided different tuning capabilities. Interesting but fairly advanced and I don’t think I am that good to use it much.

So explore around and see what you come up with. Also, check your VOICE with certain vocal ranges. Sometimes we will write songs in keys that are either too low or too high in parts. See what works best and if applying a capo to it can help you find a better key.

All about EXPERIMENTATION.
MAB

 
     
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MBarne4908 Joined Jul 29, 2010
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Oct 07, 2017, 04:01 PM

Wow BC, some very good info from some very talented people.  The key is, as MAB said, “all about EXPERIMENTATION”.  This is what song writing is about, whether it be a lyric you are working on, composing your music, collaborating with other writers and musicians, experiment until you find just the right mix.  Great thread, glad you asked this question.  Best wishes,

Speak soon

Music is an international language, say it with a song.

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Deacon Joined Aug 30, 2009
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